First Division - Day 36

Barcelona 2 - Málaga 1

Barcelona: Víctor Valdés; Oscar López, Puyol, Frank De Boer, Sorín (Riquelme 46'); Rochemback (Overmars 62'), Mendieta, Cocu, Luis Enrique; Saviola (Gerard 77'), Kluivert. 4-4-2.
Málaga: Contreras; Josemi, Fernando Sanz, Roteta, Iznata; Manu, Miguel Angel, Romero (Leko 32'), Musampa (Sandro 71'); Darío Silva (Canabal 71'), Dely Valdés. 4-4-2.

Team changes: Barcelona: Sorín for Reiziger / Málaga: Iznata, Manu for Valcarce, Sandro.

1-0. 423. Saviola. Far post header wide of keeper from Mendieta cross.
1-1. 56. Dely Valdés (penalty). After Mendieta brought down Darío Silva.
2-1. 67. Mendieta (penalty). After Fernando Sanz handled in area.

Barcelona closed to within two points of sixth placed Athletic Bilbao after beating Málaga 2-1, and have still not given up on their hopes of overtaking the Basques to take the last UEFA cup spot. Antic's side started well with Mendieta and Rochemback combining to set up an early chance for Saviola which he failed to convert. A few minutes later Mendieta found Saviola again with a pinpoint cross, and this time he couldn't miss, beating Contreras with a well directed header. Mendieta was playing probably his best game for the club and shot just wide before the break. However Víctor Valdés had to save from Musampa at the other end as the visitors finally woke up.

Antic had to take off Sorín at the break after he suffered a relapse of the injury which had kept him out of the last match. The Argentine full back had been in trouble with the press during the week after he was caught on stage dancing with a rock group when he should have been resting, and this latest set back didn't help his reputation. B team full back Oscar López switched to the left, with Mendieta dropping back to make room for Riquelme. Ten minutes in to the second half though Darío Silva (who was playing despite a fever) fell under Mendieta's challenge and Dely Valdés levelled the scores from the resulting penalty.

Midway through the half though Barcelona were awarded a penalty themselves when Fernando Sanz cut out Kluivert's pass with his hands, and Mendieta restored the lead from the spot. After that Riquelme showed some good touches, but there was little else to entertain the crowd other than to read the publicity shots from the presidential candidates. Barça need a new leader as soon as possible, and probably have to make quite a few changes on this showing if they want to return to their former glory.